Once again we are facing the equation of religious figure plus politician, and at the center of the equation, as always, is Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi. This isn’t about his religious edict in which he called for stoning the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [to death]; it is about what was said in his most recent interview in the Egyptian Al Shorouk newspaper in which Yusuf al-Qaradawi appeared to be more like a political activist, rather than a religious figure.
In that interview he refrained from discussing matters [related to] the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, particularly in response to the question: “What is your view of the recent Muslim Brotherhood crisis?” al-Qaradawi was content with saying: “I believe that the crisis ended with the election of the new guide. I’d rather not talk about this and I do not want to get involved in the Muslim Brotherhood issue after the [new] guide has been elected.” At the same time however, he did not leave out a single political issue in the interview, from U.S. politics to the role of Turkey and Iran in the region, the Palestinian Cause, negotiations etc. ending with the Egyptian presidential elections. [In the interview] he even advised Jamal Mubarak not to run in the elections.
However, the importance of this interview lies in the fact that it reveals how al-Qaradawi is manipulating religion to serve his own political goals. In the same interview al-Qaradawi criticized Egypt for building a wall along its border with Gaza, and responded to the claim that the wall is for protecting Egyptian national security saying, “This is a mistake strengthening [the concept of nationalism] and is not based on Arabism or Islam.” He even criticized those who raise slogans about “Egypt first.”
In the same interview, against the backdrop of the Egyptian presidential elections, al Qaradawi also launched scathing attacks on the ruling regime in Egypt to the extent that he said, “Egypt will not regain its status, its wellbeing and its role unless it opens the windows of freedom.” He added, “It must open the doors completely and make way for [new] figures and competition as real democracy is the solution, not fake [democracy].”
Here we say: very well…what examples must we follow from your comments? Democracy that calls for the safety of the country, first and foremost protecting its security and preserving its interests and accepting the will of the voters, providing them with services from cleaning the streets, healthcare and education, as well as not embroiling them in senseless wars, i.e. following the same path as “[putting] Egypt first” or should we follow the vision of the Muslim Brotherhood that al-Qaradawi himself spoke of during this same interview when he spoke about the wall that he said strengthens [the concept of nationalism] and is not based on Arabism or Islam or on international conventions?
How can al-Qaradawi protest against the Gaza wall based upon the principle of abolishing borders, which is something that is in line with the Muslim Brotherhood ideology and then protest the ruling regime in Egypt in the name of democracy? In fact how did he allow himself to refrain from discussing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood out of respect for its particularity, and then discuss all [other] Arab and Islamic issues? Why doesn’t al-Qaradawi also respect the particularity of Muslims residing outside of their native countries in the same way that he respects the particularity of Egypt’s “Muslim Brotherhood”?
We can only understand or interpret al Qaradawi’s interview as political fraud or exploitation of religion. It may be that his is part of a new Muslim Brotherhood political “dissimulation” in order to mislead Arab and Egyptian public opinion.
*Published in the London-based ASHARQ ALAWSAT on Jan. 21, 2010.